Employee Management

Creating an internet and device-use policy for your business

Be sure to outline what’s allowed when it comes to technology at your small business.

Published: May 12, 2014
Updated: January 27, 2017

Creating a signed internet usage policy is a way to help your team members feel more comfortable by being made fully aware of the guidelines regarding mobile technology and internet use on your network. This type of policy shouldn't be viewed as an attempt to micromanage or restrict employees in their daily activities.

To make sure employees understand your expectations, here are a few areas to address when establishing a policy.

Personal technology use

Instead of hampering productivity, technology is a tool that can make employees more productive. In a recent survey conducted by Sage, 85% of businesses said they believe implementing remote devices positively impacted worker productivity. With that in mind, it's important to think through and outline answers to the following questions in your policy – regardless of whether employees are using the internet and technology devices in-house or remotely:

  • Personal apps and files: Can employees install personal apps and files on network-connected devices?

  • Sharing devices: Can nonemployees, such as an employee's child or spouse, use devices connected to your network

  • Personal communication: Are personal communications, such as personal texts or phone calls, allowed on network-connected devices?

  • Off-limits websites: Are certain sites not allowed on devices connected to your network?

Social media activity

Ten years ago, businesses didn't have to worry about Facebook and Twitter. But since social media is now an integral part of small business online marketing, businesses may request that employees participate to help ensure success. Consider including a specific section on social media in your policy:

  • Public communications: Describe the approvals process company communications must undergo before going live, specifically stating that social media posts must also go through the process.

  • Personal social media use: Clarify your expectations for how your employees will conduct themselves personally on social media. Include any restrictions on posting about clients and company information, venting about the job, and "friending" or accepting clients as followers on social media sites.

Enforcing your policy

If your policy is simply a document you pass around and include in new employee packets, chances are it won't be taken seriously. Instead, train employees on the risks they could encounter as part of technology use, including phishing attacks and viruses. Also, stress the importance of being careful with all emails and instant messages to avoid sending an inappropriate piece of communication not meant for public view.

It's also helpful to outline what you define as "inappropriate." The term is so vague; an employee can easily state that he or she didn't know a specific social media post or mass email would violate the policy. By being as clear as possible from the beginning, you can avoid a situation that might cost your business a crucial client and embarrass your employee.

Finally, request that each employee read and sign the policy, and return it to HR, with HR tracking responses to ensure all employees have complied. In addition to a written policy, provide verbal guidance, as well, by regularly updating employees on new technology threats.

By ensuring each employee understands his or her role in keeping devices and the company reputation secure, a business can reduce tech mishaps.

Not sure how to say “no” to your employees? Learn how to create and enforce disciplinary guidelines for your small business.

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